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Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin

Gordon C Wilson 1935-2002 An Obituary
Jack Barnaby

Gordon and Myra Wilson and their family came to Thurso in 1974 when Gordon became manager of Fred Shearer's department store. Born in Stirling, Gordon developed a love of the countryside and spent much of his spare time pursuing his main interests, ornithology and fishing.  He took part in bird counts and ringing on behalf of the RSPB and supported other conservation measures.  Gordon was a keen trout fisher to the extent of rising early on the first, and subsequent mornings of his honeymoon, to catch a fish for Myra's breakfast.

Once they were settled in Thurso, Myra joined the Caithness Field Club and eventually persuaded Gordon to do likewise.  He soon developed an interest in the archaeology of the area and particularly enjoyed visits to local sites.  With Myra, he explored new areas and made many new finds.  Such was their enthusiasm that they spent a whole year exploring Strath Naver. Gordon had an exceptional memory and an unerring sense of direction and was able to return to an area many months after his original visit and pinpoint his previous finds with ease.

Both Gordon and Myra were members of Northern Studies and enjoyed the Summer Schools, organised by Aberdeen University in different parts of Scotland.

Shortly after joining the Field Club, Shirley and I were invited to join Gordon and Myra on their weekend expeditions and were soon to learn that our idea of a walk, for fresh air and exercise, differed fundamentally from Gordon's. For him there had to be an objective - which was usually the discovery of new sites in the designated area. Secondary objectives were the sighting of uncommon flora and fauna. The walks were taken throughout the year; few concessions were made to the weather and sick notes were not accepted.  During our "short" lunch break, Gordon would fortify himself with Irn Bru and, in wintry weather, serve us with his home-made soup. Picnics in the snow only added to the fun.

On occasion we took part in RSPB "dead bird" counts on Caithness beaches or Holy Grass surveys on the banks of the River Thurso. Gordon was also very interested in otters and carried out an extensive survey to estimate the otter population in the county.  Whatever the walk, they were all stimulating and enjoyable.  As a committee member, Gordon was asked to draw up the annual Field Club programme of activities. He introduced many new walks and led most of them.  Each walk was meticulously planned and handouts were prepared, with sketches of the site and information on places of interest. During the walk, he supplied supplementary information where necessary.  His walks were very popular and always well attended. He was also in demand to lead walks for other organisations.  Gordon kept detailed notes of his findings and was in the process of assembling them into publishable form when his health started to deteriorate and he died in March 2002. His congenial company and expertise are sorely missed.

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